The Neighbor - D. D. Warren, Bk 3 Author:Lisa Gardner It was a case to spark a media feeding frenzy -- a young mother, blond and pretty, disappears without a trace from her South Boston home, leaving behind her four-year-old daughter as the only witness and her handsome, secretive husband as the prime suspect. But from the moment Detective Sergeant D. Warren arrives at the Joneses' snug little ... more »bungalow, she senses something off about the picture of wholesome normality the couple worked so hard to create.
On the surface, Jason and Sandra Jones were like any other hardworking young couple raising a four-year-old child. But it is just under the surface that things grew murkier. With the clock ticking on the life of a missing woman and the media firestorm building, Jason Jones seems more intent on destroying evidence and isolating his daughter than on searching for his "beloved" wife.« less
Beautiful school teacher Sandra Jones makes supper for her four-year-old daughter, gives her a bath, puts her to bed, and then disappears. Her husband comes home from work to find Sandra gone. Jason claims his wife would never leave their daughter unprotected in the house alone. Jason is not cooperating with the police. He will not let them see the family computer. He will not let them question his daughter. Sgt. D.D. Warren believes Jason killed his wife, but he isn't their only suspect. The neighbor down the street is a convicted sexual predator with no alibi. Sandy's estranged father shows up in Boston claiming he should have custody of his grandchild. And a 13-year-old computer genius may hold the key to the whole mystery.
This book grabbed my attention from the first sentence. I spent my time reading the book and wondering what exactly happened to Sandy Jones. There are a number of suspects, but I felt like each of them were being railroaded to look guilty. There are also a ton of secrets between Jason and his wife. What exactly happened in the past? Why are all the doors and windows kept locked? What does Jason look at on his computer at night? Where did their money come from? I did figure out Jason's secret, but I couldn't even imagine what happened to Sandy. When it finally became clear what was going on (in the last 25 pages), it felt like a hurried conclusion that wasn't thought out too well. I'm still left asking questions about one character in the book. So after reading the ending, I deleted a star from what could have been a 5 star book. My rating: 4 Stars.
In Lisa Gardner's "The Neighbor," Jason Jones and his twenty-three year old wife, Sandra, appear to be a normal American couple. He works nights as reporter for a Boston newspaper and she is a conscientious middle school social studies teacher. They dote on their adorable and precocious four-year old, Clarissa, whom they call Ree. However, nothing in a Lisa Gardner novel is ever straightforward. When Jason and Sandra married, he was thirty and she was eighteen. Neither one revealed to the other certain horrific secrets that they preferred to keep buried. As Sandra says, "It seems we go longer in silence all the time." Her husband has a tendency to be morose, since "he believed at all times that the worst could happen."
The trouble begins when Jason comes home from work early one morning and finds his wife missing with Ree asleep in her bedroom. Jason knows that Sandra would never willingly depart without Ree. Did someone abduct Sandra or did she leave of her own accord? Working on the case is thirty-eight year old Sergeant D. D. Warren, a "dedicated [homicide] investigator and hard-core workaholic." With no useful conclusive physical evidence, there is not much that D. D. and her colleagues can do. However, they are looking both at Jason and his neighbor, Aidan Brewster, a convicted sex offender. Since Jason is egregiously uncooperative when the police question him, the cops soon suspect that he knows more about his wife's disappearance than he is willing to admit. Brewster is a pathetic loner who works in a garage, goes home, eats dinner, and watches television. He is required to report to his probation officer regularly. "The shrinks have a term for it: pretend normal," he says wryly. Since he had met Sandra briefly, it is not inconceivable that Aidan took an interest in this pretty young blonde.
Gardner teases us with subtle hints, but only slowly reveals the big picture. We wonder why Jason is so silent and testy when he is questioned by the cops. Yet, even the most jaded individual must acknowledge that Jason appears to be a phenomenal father who knows exactly how to handle Ree's moods. He does everything in his power to make his little girl feel special and loved. The scenes between Jason and Ree are tender and poignant. Questions that are raised but not immediately answered are: Why does Jason spend hours huddled over his computer? Where does Sandra go when she occasionally "takes a break" from her family? Why does this couple avoid discussing their childhood experiences with one another? As we get to know each character through affecting first-person accounts and flashbacks that alternate with third person narrative, we begin to sense that separating fact from fiction will prove to be extremely difficult. Gardner builds up suspense brilliantly and wraps up her story with a series of genuine surprises and a final clever twist.
"The Neighbor" is an edge-of-your seat thriller in which Gardner explores the ways in which computers can be used for good or evil, how horrific childhood traumas can scar a victim for life, and the need that every man and woman has to love and be loved in return. She also touches on the media frenzy that inevitably follows when an attractive wife and mother vanishes without a trace. The dialogue is sharp and laced with mordant humor. This is not your typical escapist beach read. There is a great deal of profanity and some disturbing references to unsavory subjects. "The Neighbor" is a gripping and intense police procedural, a moving portrait of a troubled family, and a complex murder mystery. Few readers will be able to put this book aside until they learn exactly what Jason and Sandra are hiding and why.
I need to rate this book in two parts: 1: The entire book up until the last 25 pages 2: The last 25 pages. I would rate 1 5 stars, this was a fast paced edge of your seat thriller, it was none stop, you never knew who did it, there were so many suspects it was hard to keep track but riveting nonetheless, 2: 0 stars, it fell as flat as a thriller can fall, it was completely terrible. The ending (which I will not completely ruin for you here) was just without thought, poorly written and hurried to the point that it makes the rest of this fabulous book pathetic. I cannot recommend this one based ont he end, but I will say that the ride up until the end is not stop thrills. Quite a disappointment to say the least.
Each book in this series just keeps getting better. This is the first series I have come across that makes me feel this way. Each time I start a new book I think I have it figured out half way through, but within the last 20 or so pages, the twists and revelations are not what you expect! These are not run of the mill mysteries. These are the type of books that make you get frustrated at the end because you didn't see it coming!